A committee of the world football governing body is planning reforms to prevent future leaders from emulating controversial suspended president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA’s reform committee has recommended a 12-year term limit, and a 74-year age limit for future presidents of the world football governing body. The reforms come in the wake of the corruption scandal surrounding 79-year-old Swiss Sepp Blatter, who prior to his October 8 suspension had held the presidential post since 1998.
FIFA has confirmed that it will hold the election of its next president at a special congress on February 26 next year. It also promised that it would do more to open up internal investigations into complaints and scandals.
“At its extraordinary session in Zurich today, the FIFA Executive Committee approved a set of important measures to further strengthen its governance and increase the transparency of Ethics Committee proceedings,” a FIFA statement said on Tuesday. It added these measures would reiterate “its commitment to necessary reforms already underway”.
The FIFA reform committee also proposed that the executive committee be renamed as the “FIFA Council” and that it would be restricted to overseeing “strategic matters” rather than having “executive powers over policies”. The general secretary would be replaced by a chief executive.
The commission’s report, published by FIFA, says, “FIFA’s leaders must recognise and accept that the errors of the past were real, and they were unacceptable.”
Any changes have to be approved by all 209 FIFA members.
Henry Peter, a professor of law at the University of Geneva, told swissinfo.ch that the reforms would allow FIFA to bring itself in line with good practice in terms of good governance of federations.
“They are doing nothing else other than adopting a solution that is required from any respected sports federation worldwide. It is a basic principle requirement – a benchmark – which would be respected by any international federation,” he said.
He noted that FIFA was very unusual in not having such standards in place already.
Blatter and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini were suspended for 90 days earlier in October over a CHF2 million ($2.1 million) payment made by Platini in 2011. The Swiss has claimed that the payment was subject to a “gentleman’s agreement”. Both men deny the allegations of corruption. Swiss authorities are investigating the matter.
FIFA is facing unprecedented pressure to reform its governance structure following the May indictment by US authorities of nine current and former football officials on bribery-related charges. Many had served on FIFA’s executive committee or other FIFA committees.
Swiss public prosecutors are also investigating the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar, both taken at a vote in Zurich in December 2010.
Questions over Platini
Platini, also head of European football body UEFA, is seeking the next FIFA presidency.
But the confirmation of the February date for the election has been seen as a blow for Platini, as a delay would have given him more time to appeal against his ban.